Common Qs

Your Common TOEFL Listening Questions back to top


1) I don't understand how to apply NoteFull's strategies; what should I do?  

2) I understand the strategies, but I'm still not getting my score; what should I do?

3) What's the benefit of reviewing the same passages again?

4) How can I succeed if I'm not familiar with the listening topics?

5) How can I improve my listening comprehension?

6) Are there any other online sources I can use improve listening comprehension?

7) Do I have to take notes; if so, how can I improve note-taking?


Your Questions Answered back to top


1) I don't understand how to apply NoteFull's strategies; what should I do?


Using strategy with the listening section can be difficult for students who are new to this process. However, strategies are very important, particularly when working through a timed, standardized test like the TOEFL. Whenever you do not understand how to apply or utilize a strategy type effectively, this means that we'll need to work on them consistently and over time. 


If you are already registered, this means that you're already on the right track. In Step One, we include a very detailed guide and "Power Review" which will walk you through the strategies. 


If you're not yet registered for a system with listening in it, we strongly recommend that you make this your next step. In our systems, you'll gain access to our tried and tested strategies and you'll be able to work through practice tests to master each of them, step by step. Here's a link to register now: Complete TOEFL Mastery


Regardless, when you're struggling with a specific question in your NoteFull system, we'll be glad to help clarify everything. Just send us an email at that includes:


1) the step and listening passage you're struggling with,

2) the question number,

3) and the answer choice(s) you initially selected. 


We look forward to helping you get through the strategies in any way that we can.



2) I understand the strategies, but I'm still not getting my score; what should I do?


When you understand the listening strategies, but you're still getting a score that is low (or lower than expected and hoped), this typically means that you're 1) skipping crucial parts of the strategy, 2) going to need comprehension and/or vocabulary improvement, 3) should consider tutoring to iron out any further difficulties. 


I know this sounds simple, but it's true. We have students who bring this very same question to us in tutoring sessions. You're not alone! Because these students are already registered for tutoring, we always walk through example questions together and find that, time and time again, the problem lies with the fact that the student didn't strictly follow all steps of the strategy and/or could not understand the question, the passage, or the answer choices due to comprehension issues.


If you're stuggling, we recommend the following powerful combination of systems: 


Complete TOEFL Mastery

2 Additional Tutoring Sessions


Whatever you do, keep working hard to master every detail and to improve your comprehension. There is no replacement for tutoring when you're REALLY struggling, but we're always here to answer any questions you may have. Good luck!



3) What's the benefit of reviewing the same passages again?


This is a very common question we receive from our great students. While we understand your concerns, we want you to feel absolutely confident that repetition is your key to mastery. 


Your ability to answer questions in the listening section should have little to do with whether or not you are familiar with the content. If you're having trouble with comprehension or note-taking, these are separate issues which we'd be glad to help you with--don't hesitate to let us know. It's the strategy itself, though, that will act as your road map to the correct answer every time. 


So, imagine strategy mastery like learning a new dance; when you're learning a dance, you practice each step with repetition, and you do it with the same song again and again until it's mastered, right? The same is true for listening. Practice the steps again and again with the same passages until you've mastered them. If you do this, you will be able to conquer any listening passage you face on the TOEFL. Keep working at it; we know you'll succeed!



4) How can I succeed if I'm not familiar with the listening topics?


While you may find that the topics on the TOEFL are challenging and unfamiliar, remember: ETS does not create listening passages that are unmanageable. 


Even if I'm presented with content that is unfamiliar, I know I will find the answers because 1) the lectures and discussions will provide all of the information I need to know, 2) it will only test my ability to find information that's already presented in or implied by the passages, 3) I take strong notes, and 4) I use a strict strategy to find each answer. Reminding myself of these points tells me that I should be able to select the correct answers. It may be tough; I may feel a lot of pressure because of the length or speed of the passage, but I know and believe that I can find the answers. 


Always remember, if you're struggling with the content of the passages, you should work on a combination of strategy and comprehension improvement. If you don't have a NoteFull reading system, here's a link to get started right away: Complete TOEFL Mastery



5) How can I improve my listening comprehension?


When strategy isn't enough, this may mean that general listening comprehension and note-taking skills are the issues holding you back. To improve your comprehension, you'll need to work consistently each day. You may not see improvements right away, but with time you'll start to become a stronger and more efficient listener.


If you're already registered with a NoteFull system, you should be familiar with the many dictation activities throughout Steps One, Two, and Three. You should also have taken a look at the "Extra Edge" and "TOEFL Topics" sections in Step Three. We urge you to continue to work through those activities as often as possible. Please let us know if you have any trouble or questions as you move forward. 


If you're not registered, we strongly recommend that you take a look at the following program. This will be a great way to start building your vocabulary and comprehension skills today: Complete TOEFL Mastery 


Here are some additional quick tips:


1) Listen daily. The listening passages you select should be a mix of comfortable and challenging. It shouldn't be so challenging, however, that you cannot focus or understand the general points. 

2) Keep a log of new vocabulary you encounter in your listening; review the words each week; practice using them for mastery.  

3) Also, while you're listening, try to use the general comprehension skills that good listeners use: think about the content as you're listening, connect the information you hear to your personal experience or information you already have in your mind, visualize the content, predict and think about what will come next, ask yourself--how do these points connect to the main idea?


No matter what, keep up the hard work and always let us know if you have any further questions. You can do it!



6) Are there any other online sources I can use to improve listening comprehension?


There are plenty of sources out there that we would recommend to you if you're trying to improve your general reading abilities and comprehension. Here are some links to peruse:


1) Yale Courses 

2) MIT Courses

3) NYU Courses

4) Audible   

5) BBC Dialogues (note: not American accents)

6) Netflix  

7) NOVA (note: for students outside of the U.S., try searching on YouTube)


Please don't hesitate to write in and let us know if we missed any good, helpful sources you have found in your studies.



7) Do I have to take notes; if so, how can I improve note-taking?


Note-taking is probably one of the most difficult tasks to improve quickly because there are so many different elements involved:


With note-taking we are using our comprehension skills. 

We have to learn to write fast, but also write clearly.

We must write down meaningful words and content that will help us answer the questions.

We also have to be careful with how we organize and structure our notes. 


These are probably some of the major reasons why students often write in to let us know that they prefer NOT taking notes. However, if you hope to get the highest score possible, you should learn to master effective note-taking (if you're taking the TOEFL to get into any sort of academic program--consider this as preparation for your university classroom, too!).


To improve, we strongly urge you to register for a system that includes our awesome "Great Notes" cycle of improvement. Any system that includes 3-steps of listening, speaking, or writing will come equipped with this powerful improvement tool. Here is a great system to help you get started:  Complete TOEFL Mastery


If you're registered and you're still struggling, please let us know what step of the "Great Notes" cycle has been giving you the greatest difficulty. We'd be glad to clarify it for you. You may also consider tutoring; in a session, our instructors are trained to help you find the precise reason you're struggling with note-taking.


We'll be here to help you every step of the way!


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2 entries
basma ismail wrote on Friday December 23, 2016 8:40am
Where can I find the practices plz ?

tai wrote on Thursday February 19, 2015 12:56pm
Rated 5 of 5 Stars